Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Arwendnesdays with Arwen the Wonder Dog

Hello, Arwen the wonder dog here for another installment of Arwendnesdays. It has been getting colder here and that combined with the constant rain has made mommy very sore. even if she wasn't, we still wouldn't be able to go for our walks - I HATE the rain....mommy calls me a girly dog, because I hate to even do my business when it rains...though I do like coming in afterwards and getting toweled off! Anyway, since we don't have any recent walking photos, today I'm showing how I help mommy with everything. She has been sore and feeling ill with her Fibromyalgia so I help as much as I can: I cuddle and follow her around like a sticky shadow, I bark at things much more often to make sure I'm protecting her from any wild things that try to come on my property, and I help her with her computer stuff.

Now, my toes do sometimes get in the way, but I noticed yesterday that we had won a blog award from Audrey's Country Crafts!
We have to answer the following questions and then pass it to 6 more blogs. I am going to try to answer for myself and mommy, so here goes:
1. Where is your cell phone? Kitchen counter
2. Your hair? Mommy: long and brown, Arwen: black and white
3. Your mother? Mommy: In Ottawa, Arwen: right here
4. Your father?
Mommy: In Ottawa, Arwen: at work
5. Your favorite food?
Mommy: Lentils, Arwen: ANYTHING!
6. Your dream last night?
Mommy: Can't remember, Arwen: Chasing Deers
7. Your favorite drink?
Mommy: Oaky, Italian red wine, Arwen: tuna juice
8. Your dream/goal?
Mommy: to make my business a steady, full time income, Arwen: to chase deers allllll day.
9. What room are you in?
Mommy and Arwen: living room
10. Your hobby?
Mommy: any crafts/reading/playing with Arwen, Arwen: Eating Grass and throwing my seal around
11. Your fear?
Mommy: being totally disabled, Arwen: mommy leaving me or me running out of treats!
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years?
Mommy: with Arwen and my hubby, happy and making jewelry, Arwen: chasing deers
13. Where were you last night?
Mommy and Arwen: right here!
14. Something that you aren’t?
Mommy and Arwen: lazy
15. Muffins?
Mommy and Arwen: YES PLEASE!!
16. Wish list item?
Mommy: Wacom Bamboo Fun (Medium) Silver Tablet with Pen, Mouse & Graphics Software, Arwen: deers and treats
17. Where did you grow up? Mommy: Ottawa, Arwen: Merrickville
18. Last thing you did? Mommy: Put out the garbage, Arwen: watched mommy put out the garbage
19. What are you wearing? Mommy: warm clothes (it is FREEZING here now), Arwen: my birthday suit (my furs, silly!)
20. Your TV? Mommy and Arwen: yes
21. Your pets? Mommy: Arwen, Arwen: mommy and daddy :)
22. Friends? Mommy and Arwen: thankfully, yes
23. Your life?
Mommy and Arwen: loving
24. Your mood?
Mommy and Arwen: happy and sleepy
25. Missing someone?
Mommy and Arwen: daddy - he's at work
26. Vehicle?
Mommy and Arwen: just daddy's Toyota
27. Something you’re not wearing?
Mommy and Arwen: boots
28. Your favorite store?
Mommy: any book store, Arwen: the pet store of course!
29. Your favorite color?
Mommy: blue or black Arwen: I only see black and white!
30. When was the last time you laughed?
Mommy and Arwen: this morning
31. Last time you cried?
Mommy and Arwen: when we had a lost puppy on our door step - thankfully he is safe at his home now :)
32. Your best friend?
Mommy: Arwen, Arwen: mommy
33. One place that I go to over and over?
Mommy and Arwen: our regular walks on our roads
34. One person who emails me regularly?
Mommy (Arwen): Hubby (daddy)
35. Favorite place to eat?
Mommy and Arwen: our house, 'cause mommy loves to cook!
Here are 6 of our favorite blogs to pass this on to:
1. FriendsFurEver
2. DaisytheCurlyCat
3. BeadedTail
4. Mishkat
5. EndlessWhimsy
6. LifeCraftinessandEverythingElse (the House of Mouse)

We hope you have a great Arwendnesday, see you soon!!

and Arwen

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tuesday's Treasures: Cleopatra's Bangle Progress

Here is the (very Slow) progress I have made on the new bracelet. I keep getting distracted by fall cleaning, doctor's appointments and other things and have to keep putting it down. The good news is that my doctor told me I have acid reflux and not throat cancer (I'd been having a feeling of my throat closing for months so this is a HUGE relief), we got 3 new 2-drawer filing cabinets and FINALLY bought new sofas (on sale, to replace the 18 year old ones that practically sink to the floor!). The bad news is that, or course, my jewelry making has been suffering abysmally.

The base of this bangle is made with right angle weave, which I will be going over afterward in all manner of patterns to build it into a 3-dimensional bangle that feels soft as silk, yet is actually quite hefty. This bracelet uses about 50-60 grams of seed beads, each individually sewn into place with many, many yards of beading thread. This will end up containing AT LEAST 3000 beads!! Yes, I do doubt my sanity at times when doing this, but I must say, with a good TV show or movie on, a good cup of tea and a comfy seat, the time flies and I relax so much it is amazing. I will be covering right angle weave in one of my Method Mondays in the future, if you were wondering what that was :)
Here is the up close - I'm sorry for the bad photos: I took them in my living room window this morning, but as we are still fairly dark at 7AM now, the lighting wasn't so great. It really doesn't show how nice a blue these beads are - sort of an oily, lapis lazuli shade. I'll try to keep you up to date on the progress, and hopefully it won't look so pathetic next time!

Have a great day, tune in tomorrow for another installment of Arwendnesdays with Arwen the Wonder Dog.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Monday's Methods:Jewelry Making Basics

~Bent Chain Nose Pliers, Round Nose Pliers (Ergonomic), Flush Side Cutters~

For the first installment of Monday's Methods, we are going back to the basics: The very foundation, the tools of the trade as it were. This is a very BASIC list of tools (and you can be sure that I'll be adding to this list as we go on) that you can get at any jewelry supplier or bead store to start your own beading adventures! The biggest thing to keep in mind at any stage is to get the best you can afford. Never, ever get the cheapest pliers ($5 and under here in Canada, probably less in USA and abroad). They are uncomfortable (read: bruises and blisters), they don't have good construction, and they won't really last. A good starting point is about $10. From there, you can move up to more expensive ones (I am coveting a set of German ones, at about $40 per'll be awhile!), or resell them to a beading friend at a reasonable price if you don't think jewelry making is for you. A quick note: DO NOT use regular needle nose pliers that you would get at the hardware store. With very few exceptions, these all have ridges on the inside of them which will seriously mar your wire.

The first photo shows three sets of pliers: Bent Chain Nose Pliers, Round Nose Pliers (Ergonomic), and Flush Side Cutters.

Bent chain nose pliers are great for wire working when you need a bit of an angle on things. They are great for helping you get into tiny areas. If you look closely, or at the second photo, you'll see that mine taper to a fairly fine point. This is, again, to get into those tight spaces. The angle looks awkward, and feels awkward, at first, but after a little while working with these babies, you won't EVER want to go to back to straight chain nose pliers. When I teach classes, I always get my students to grab the bent chain nose over the straight. Try them and you'll see why!
~Tapered Bent Chain Nose Pliers~

Round Nose pliers are great for making wrapped loops, bends in wire, and so much more. They aren't as good for holding wire as the chain nose pliers, as the rounded sides may mar the wire if you press down too hard. Mine have more ergonomic handles which reduce stress and fatigue on your hands - always a plus if you are doing many hours at a time, or if you have arthritis.

Flush side cutters are great for cutting wire flat. You position the cutters perpendicular to the wire and it will cut at a ninety-degree angle, reducing the amount of filing time. They are a little more expensive than regular cutters, but worth it. A side note: do NOT cut thick wire or memory wire with these, as it will nick the blades. These are for regular wire only. I cut 18 gauge or less, though usually for 18 gauge, I'll use my big cutters, just to be safe.
~Nylon Jaw Pliers, Crimp Pliers, Heavy Duty Cutters~

The next photo shows Nylon Jaw Pliers, Crimp Pliers, and Heavy Duty Cutters. Though not strictly essential, they REALLY help move things along.

Nylon Jaw pliers are great for straightening curled wire, and work hardening wire (we'll get to that last technique another day). They are also great for holding soft wire without making dents in the wire. You can even make small pieces of wire decoration (swirls, etc) and then hold and press them in the pliers to make them more sturdy (again, we'll get to that another day).

Crimp pliers are a wonderful invention for using the very finicky crimp beads. They help to make crimping and flattening the crimp beads as simple and painless as possible (this is again, for another lesson).

Heavy duty cutters are just that: cutters for cutting heavier gauges of wire, or memory wire. These are actually taken from a regular old hardware store set of pliers. They are inexpensive and effective. You can, of course, get the fancy heavy duty ones from bead stores, for a little more expense.
~Right Angle Bent Chain Nose Pliers, File, Tape Measure/Ruler~

Here is another set of bent chain nose pliers, a metal file and tape measure.

This, second pair of bent chain nose pliers, is less expensive (they were actually my first pair that I have retired to second duty, as their joint is starting to wiggle) and are used when two pairs of flat pliers are needed (usually in finicky wire work). If you look at the fifth photo, you'll see that these pliers have a near ninety degree bend and don't taper quite as much at the end as the other pair - there are many types and styles of pliers, so if at first you don't find a favorite, keep trying and you're sure to find some that you like.
~Ninety Degree Bent Chain Nose Pliers~

The file is an essential piece of equipment in my opinion - you don't have to buy expensive metal ones either, as a simple nail file will suffice for all but the most rare of projects. Use this to file the ends of your wires to prevent snags on clothing, or for filing the ends of ear wires to prevent them being uncomfortable when inserting them into ears.

The tape measure, or a ruler, is imperative. If you want to produce accurate replicas of your work (for ear wires, or other more particular pieces), you must be able to accurately measure your wire or other materials. I have both a rigid 6 and 12 inch ruler, as well as a standard fabric tape measure. They are all worth the money you'll save in wasted, improperly measured wire later on!
The second, forth and fifth (above) photos show how to correctly hold your pliers. You want to cradle your pliers in the natural depression of your hands (above). Gently curl your fingers around the pliers as you'll see in photos 2 and four, and you'll have your grip. Here is where trying a few different sizes and types of pliers will come in handy - my hands are long and so the "mini" or smaller type pliers are out for me, unless I want to induce fatigue on my hands. Also, pay attention to the handles - the smaller or narrower they are, the quicker they will hurt or fatigue your hands if you are doing anything remotely finicky.

That is all for today, I'm sorry this was a bit late - our internet kept dropping and then I had a doctor's appointment. Tune in tomorrow for a bit of the project I'm working on now.

See you tomorrow!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Sweet Saturday: I Can See My Desk!

For those of you that wanted to see my work space, you're in for a shock, not a treat. This is the first time I've seen my desk in about 4 months. No Joke. I have had so many papers, projects, and miscellaneous junk on it that I just about had a meltdown the other day and decided to clean it. It's not that I'm a messy or disorganized person, it's just that I have so much stuff and so little storage. Not for long: I have decided how I am going to redo my office, and when the store restocks the shelving that I want, I am taking the plunge. No more waiting, I can't stand to be so crammed that I can't fit a jewelry project and my laptop on my desk. I don't even have a large laptop, or large projects, it's just that I have, as I said, so much stuff to store on my desk that I can't do much more than pick out my materials and get out of there as fast as I can!

I will admit to one cardinal sin, though: I LOVE bookkeeping. I love it so much that I will let it pile up so that I have at least a few solid hours of sitting in front of my laptop, entering numbers into spreadsheets and doing calculations. That, for me at least, is like a yogi sitting and meditating to relax. It clears my mind and lets me have some fun with numbers (I know, I know, but I never said I wasn't a nerd, quite the opposite really!).
Now that the papers are cleared away, I have found that, not only am I caught up on all my bookkeeping for the year, but I have some space that might need filling on my desk! This is the start of a new project that I will keep you up to date on. It is similar to the Victoria's Bangle Bracelet that is currently for sale in my Etsy store, but will be done in dark, lapis lazuli-colored blue and amber-colored seed beads, inspired by Egyptian Queen Nefertiti. It will take the better part of a week (my hands cramp up so that slows me down a bit), so I'll try to update you often without boring you. It is using a bead weaving or stitching technique that is very fun and relaxing.

Arwen, meanwhile, is fast asleep, her paws making little twitching, running movements - I think she is dreaming of the deer we saw on our last walk!

Have a great Saturday,
and Arwen

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fabulous Friday Features: The House of Mouse!

Welcome to the newest installment of the Fabulous Friday Features, where a new artist is featured each week! If you are an artist, or if you know an artist on Etsy, Artfire, iCraft, or another online venue who should be featured, please leave me a comment with their name and their website.

As no one has given me new artists to feature, I would like to do a surprise feature on one of my favorite artists on Etsy, TheHouseofMouse. Anna is the genius behind these adorable critters, and, take it from me, will be very famous for them one of these days (are you listening, Hollywood??). Living in Holland (she is originally from England), she started making mice for fun, but after a few smart people said she should sell them, she did, and really hasn't looked back!
~Gandalf the Grey Mouse~

Her inspirations come from all over, but some of her newest creations are from some very popular movies, such as The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Harry Potter and more.
~Yoda Mouse - How Can You Not Smile at Him?~

Each mouse is individually hand made with great care and attention to detail. She also does custom orders, just in case you don't see exactly what you are looking for on her site (that may be hard, however, as she has just about every base covered with her mice!).
~For the Vampire Lovers in Your Life, Vladimir the Vampire Mouse~

Each high quality little mouse is lovingly packaged and comes with it's own certificate of authenticity, stamped with a wax seal. She also ships all over the world (so those of you purchasing my presents for Christmas are well warned of what I would like!!). The two mice below are some of my very favorites, though I do think I will have to save and collect the Harry Potter Collection, the Lord of the Rings Collection, and most of the Star Wars Collection (okay, okay, I'm a movie nerd).

Right now on Anna's Blog, Life, Craftiness and Everything Else, you can enter to win a free mouse of your choice (up to $40 in value)! She is giving one mouse away each month with this contest, so be sure to pop by her blog often.

That is all for now, I have to pop by Anna's blog and tell her she is newly featured!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thoughtful Thursday: Planning Ahead

Hello everyone! I, Arwen the Wonder Dog, have taken over the blog again today to help with a serious issue here. Before I do, we wanted to thank everyone for all of their comments on our blogs - we might not answer them all, but we read and love every one of your wonderful comments!

Now, back to business! A little while ago, mommy asked you all how she could improve the blog and her store to keep you interested and coming back. Many of you wanted to see more of me (but of course!), and many of you also wanted to see how Meghann, my mom does what she does - how she makes her fabulous jewelry pieces, what she uses, et cetera. If truth be told, mommy is a little shy so she asked me to help her plan some lessons. The top photo is me looking apprehensive - I stated previously that holding pens in my paws is difficult, but I thought I should give it a try...
Well, OK, I'll write, but I don't want you to see it until it's done!

OK, I can't be that mean, but here are a few of our thoughts so far:
-Jewelry how-to's will be done on Mondays and will be called "Monday's Methods"
-We'll cover the basics; tools, how they are held properly, what they are used for
-Different wire types and how they are used
-Different Bead and stone types, their differences, why it's important, and how they are used
-Techniques; basics, wrapping, hammering, stitching
-Works in Progress
...And much more!

We are also working on trying to clean and organize mommy's office. It is hard because she doesn't really have a good working space, but we are working on that too!

Please let us know if there is anything else you would like to see so that we can make sure you are always happy visiting us. We want to make you happy and keep you interested!

Ta-Ta for now,
and Arwen

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Arwendnesdays With Arwen the Wonder Dog!

Hello! It's me, Arwen the Wonder Dog, here for your weekly fix of ME on Wednesdays, newly rechristened Arwendnesdays With Arwen the Wonder Dog :)

Mommy hasn't been bringing her camera on our walks lately (something about me catching she scent of all the deers in the area and trying to run after all of them at once with her attached to my leash...she says she doesn't want her camera filled with gravel if I accidentally pull her onto her belly, rah-rooh!), but she DID find a really cool program for free collages at Shape Collage and tried this one of ME (of course!). I think it turned out really well, but then again, I might be biased, rah-rooh rooh!

It is a very easy program to use - you just select the photos you want to import into the program, select the shape you want your collage to be (rectangle, heart, etc.), then click "create" and you're good to go! I am thinking of asking mommy to print this one so that I can sign it...I just need to figure out a way of holding the pen with my paws, ha-rah-rooh.

I think I am going to try and get mommy to do a heart collage of me next - then she can print it and paste one over her desk, one in her bedroom, one in the get the idea ;-)

Until next time, thanks for tuning in, mommy says she'll have some more new things for you soon!

and Arwen

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tuesday's Treasures: Arwen's High 5's

Arwen loves to play Cheshire Cat, er, Dog, by sitting in the living room window to keep an eye out on things. Any time anyone tries to come onto her territory, she'll let everyone know with a little bark, a little growl, or a shake of her fluffy tail. A few days ago she spotted something lovely in the garden:
Raspberries! I had only planted the bush this year and had thought that I might have to wait a year or two, but here they are! I had 3 of the most delicious raspberries I'd ever tasted, and there are more on the little plant trying to grow! How spectacular!
Arwen was so happy she wanted to give me a high 5 to celebrate - with her lasers of course!

I haven't done much jewellery lately, but I crocheted myself a scarf and hat (the hat is a little small, but maybe I'll give it to someone with a smaller head and make another one) and I have plans to do some hand warmers and a few other things, as well as jewelry tutorials and a couple of pieces I'm really excited about. Stay tuned, there's always something happening here!

and Arwen

Monday, September 21, 2009

Thoughts and Prayers Needed

I haven't written a blog post for two days as I had some sad news from 2 of my blog friends and I needed time to think it over. I wanted to put my feelings into order to make a blog post that would mean something, but I am still very upset and I don't think I have the ability to be very loquacious at this point (or probably ever).

Barry at An Explorer's View of Life has informed his blog followers that the cancer in his esophagus has spread to other parts of his body, making his cancer treatable, but not curable. His doctors have said he has anywhere from a few months to 5 years. I am in shock! A man who is so witty, funny, fresh and alive, who has gone through the Hell of chemo, radiation and throat widening procedures just HAS to get better. Please, please pray for him, or if you aren't a praying person, please, please send him positive thoughts of healing and happiness.

After hearing that, I went to another of my favorite blogs, written by Renee on Circling My Head. Renee is a vocal, intelligent woman, not afraid to swear when it is necessary, dealing with her own terminal cancer (which is, thank God, stable right now), and having a very hard time recently, with her mother getting sick, her sister diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer, and her nephew with a cancer that less than a handful of people in the world have had, and none have survived. On Friday, her Nephew Sheldon succumbed to his cancer and passed away in the hospital. Please, Please pray and send positive thoughts to her and her family to help them get through this terrible time. He was only 25, and though death at any age is hard, his was more so.

Please help them with your thoughts and prayers. Please visit their blogs and give them your support.
My love to all of my blog followers, I hope you never have to go through what these brave people are going through. My love, prayers and thoughts to Barry and his family, and to Renee and her family also.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Fabulous Friday: Last Day for the Sale!

Today's the last day for the surprise birthday sale! Get 20% off everything in my Etsy store until midnight EST. Get great prices on your fall shopping, or even get a head start on your Christmas shopping (it's never too early)!

Pssst! Subscribers already know they are getting another special deal alongside this, so make sure you sign up to my newsletter to make sure you're on the inside scoop for the next sale!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thankful Thursday: SURPRISE SALE!!

As mentioned yesterday, I have a big announcement today, and that is a surprise 2-day sale! My birthday was last week (the 10th), so I thought I would celebrate it a little late (hey, it's better than never, right?) by having a sale in my Etsy store.
For Thursday and Friday the 17th and 18th, everything in my Etsy store is 20% off! I'll refund you the 20% after you pay, or send a revised invoice, whichever you choose. Discounts are on the items only, and do not apply to shipping or applicable taxes. There are no discount codes to worry about, you'll get 20% off everything in my store :-)
What are you waiting for?? Get shopping and take advantage of this great deal!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Awen's Wednesdays

Hello everyone, it me, Arwen the Wonder Dog and I'm back for my Arwen's Wednesdays, or "Arwednesdays" as some call it! When we were at the cottage, each night when the sun started to go down, mommy would take me walking along the shoreline to sniff the mail from the dog next door and to try and chase frogs. I wasn't too sure about the lilypads so I didn't go into the water.
When the sun really started to go down, mommy and daddy would sit me in the cottage so that they could take out their little boat on the river and fish or take pictures. I couldn't come because I'm too squirmy and they knew I would try to jump out! Here is a photo of a Blue Heron that mommy took. Sorry it is a bit blurry, but it was taken from the boat! It was a very big heron, with at least 3 feet of wingspan and it had a mate with it as well.
Here is one of the gorgeous sunsets. I really liked this time because it meant that mommy and daddy would be coming back from the water to sit and watch a movie.
I really liked these beautiful sunsets - everything was so calm and I love movie time because mommy and daddy let me sit in between them for a bit so they can cuddle me.
It's a very good life, but all this vacationing has certainly tired me out. I'm going for a nap, see you soon!!

Mommy says to tune in tomorrow for a very special announcement!

and Arwen

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tuesday's Treasures: Another Great Day at the Cottage

~Misty Morning from Our Neighbor's Dock~
I awoke one morning to find Arwen eager to do her business and when I went out to our dock I found a beautiful misty morning! After running inside to grab the camera (and make myself decent!) I found this photo waiting to be taken - it is a view from the neighbor's dock. They were truly delightful people and after I gave them a few of my birthday cupcakes, they reciprocated by giving us a HUGE jar of delicious homemade maple syrup! They have some massive maple trees on their property and each year they tap them to make the most amazing maple syrup I've ever tasted. (Thank you again if you are reading this!).
I heard a noise while taking photos (sort of a screech followed by a splash) and looked down to find this big guy staring at me. I had no idea bullfrogs can scream, but then again, if they get that big, I suppose anything is possible!
~Our Boat~
This was the view from the boat that we got with the cottage. You can really see all of the beautiful lily pads and a bit of the fog. By this time the fog had started to burn away as the sun was really rising.
When I went back onto the deck to enjoy the view, I looked down and found this beautiful little lady waiting for her own closeup. I love these waterlilies and was so very fortunate to capture one open - they close completely as soon as there is too much shade, which happens fairly often as there are many beautiful, mature trees on the shore, waiting to be admired.
~Brennan and a Friend Fishing~
Later on in the day, Brennan had a friend over for fishing and steaks. I also gave him some of my birthday cupcakes and I was delighted to see that he loved them as much as Brennan and I do. He even asked for the recipe - score one for Meghann and my gluten free, Vegan chocolate cupcakes!

I'll have more photos is another happy one of Arwen - I actually got her with her ears up!!
and Arwen


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